Mr. C'de Baca--I can relate!
James Bahrenburg
Wheat Ridge

Neighborhood Watch
I read Harrison Fletcher's April 16 column, "There Goes the Neighborhood," while eating breakfast in my favorite hash house in Wheat Ridge. It is a well-crafted piece of journalism, poignant and unbiased.

At the risk of being labeled a xenophobe and curmudgeon, I must climb up on my soapbox and respond.

Growth and development are not all bad, if they are truly "radical," which is Greek for "deeply rooted." Henry Johns's plight is a perfect example. He is a man with deep roots. Yes, his ancestors and mine were the ones who disenfranchised the true Colorado natives. Yet my family and Johns's were, and are, tied to the land. They dug deep, planted themselves and respected the earth. They were formed by the land as much as they formed the land in this place called Colorado.

What burns my butt is this insidious infiltration of a "Californication" madness mentality. It is a rampant, money-hungry, rape-and-run mindset that has been Colorado's legacy in a continuous cycle of boom and bust since the first gold was found in Cherry Creek. Listen to me, and see what I see:

*As a child, I kicked up pheasants in the cornfields in Wheat Ridge, where huge houses are now built on tiny lots, packed close together and yet isolated island monuments to greed.

*There is a locked and gated upscale community on Genesee Mountain where my great-uncle and his sons once hunted mule deer and elk. The animals' age-old wintering grounds and migration routes have been destroyed without a thought.

*At the top of Crow Hill near Bailey sits an 800-acre ranch that has been in the same family for over 100 years. It is an island of sanctuary for wildlife in the midst of super-urban sprawl. On every side, three- to five-acre "ranchettes" clutter the landscape, block migration routes and foul the air, earth and water table. Every weekday their owners commute fifty-plus miles to and from Denver, further besmudging the environment with petro-chemical waste.

All of the aforementioned are an ever-growing and bitter testament to the shallow-minded, rootless, empty souls who have no connection whatsoever to this land. No longer is this earth to be worked and husbanded; it is simply real estate to be bought and sold for empty profit. This is madness.

Development is not wrong; it is a given. What is truth is development through husbanding of the earth, not the unbridled and wanton destruction of this very fragile land. Go ahead: Walk out the door, reach down and grab a handful of Colorado soil. Clear your head and take a big whiff. This is truth, this is life. This is our legacy and that which sustains us.

Stephen Anthony

Mr. Bill
The cover of your April 9 issue suggested a story exposing to ridicule Colorado treasurer Bill Owens, the Boy Scouts and the "religious right." The real story, however, was the point to which writer Ward Harkavy came and retreated several times. Mr. Owens's political appeal is a direct result of his ability to bring together people of disparate views and inclinations, to achieve consensus where possible and to raise the level of debate where necessary.

Bill Owens is not the only person in American politics capable of this feat, but he appears to be better at it than most. If informed public discourse is a necessary element of governance in our system, hobgoblinizing religious people and liberal-bashing each militate against the reasoned conversation free people must have to preserve the great institutions of our society. Mr. Harkavy tells us that Bill Owens understands that point.

Colorado benefits when our elected officials have deliberated and articulated their own views of leadership. We benefit, too, when they listen to others.

Whatever Westword's intentions in "Life of the Party," what emerges is a portrait of Bill Owens, mainstream conservative. To voters' ears grown weary of the hyperbolic debates that divide us into warring camps, Governor Bill Owens sounds very good.

Ed Arcuri
via the Internet

Ward Harkavy's "Life of the Party" provided the Colorado electorate with some much-needed information regarding the "real life" of gubernatorial candidate Bill Owens. Sadly, there's even more, and that "more" casts serious doubts on Owens's ability to serve as governor of Colorado.

During the 1994 legislative session, then-state senator Owens proposed Senate Concurrent Resolution #1 (SCR 94-1), "Promotion of Obscenity State Control," which, had it gone its full route, would have had remarkable effects on the public's right of free expression and would have dramatically lowered the legal threshold at which Colorado law enforcement officers could have enforced societal mind control.

Testimony on SCR 94-1 was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee April 11, 1994; thankfully, it was defeated--postponed indefinitely--on a 6-3 vote. James LaRue, of the Colorado Library Committee on Intellectual Freedom, testified that if Owens's resolution were to pass, libraries would be "ensnared" in a state censorship law that certainly would "challenge school and public libraries" and that the adoption of such a resolution could "affect the classics" and "create a 'chilling' effect on all public libraries."

Lino Lipinsky, then-chair of the Bill of Rights Committee of the Colorado Bar Association, also testified. He said that were it to be adopted, Owens's resolution would "limit free expression in Colorado" and make Colorado "the first state to have placed such an overly broad definition of obscenity into its Constitution."

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